Friday, September 04, 2015

Poetry Seven Write Found Poems

I haven't quite decided how I feel about found poems. I did a lot of reading while trying to find just the right source. I tried mining historical documents, but the language was already embellished in many ways and while I tried to create something new, using such beautiful language felt like a bit of a cheat. Ultimately I decided to look for plainer language and perused cookbooks, travel brochures, and classic educational works. Once I did that, I needed to think about form. (For more information, see my post entitled Jumping Into Form - Found Poems. After a bit of research I finally settled on blackout poetry.

The pieces I'm sharing today are made from highly redacted text. After retyping and justifying each excerpt, I blacked out sections until I had my poems. You will need to click on the images to enlarge and read them. (Just in case you are wondering how to read these, scan from left to right, top to bottom.)

When I posted the poems to the Padlet that Laura created for this month's efforts, I realized that together they actually told a story, so that's the way I'm sharing them here. The first two poems were created from excerpts of the book How We Think, written in 1933 by John Dewey. (Poem 1 from p. 10-11. Poem 2 from p. 109.) The third poem was created from the introduction and directions found in a recipe by Jamie Oliver. That recipe is Monkfish Wrapped In Banana Leaves With Ginger, Cilantro, Chile, And Coconut Milk

(a short story told in found poems)

A man ...
finds his love ... 
 sparks fly.
Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

You can read the found poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

Since I've heard several folks question copyright related to found poems, I want to share a bit on this. I take copyright infringement seriously, so I did a good bit of research about copyright issues and poetry in April when I did my series on poetic forms. I highly recommend reading The Code of Best Practices In Fair Use For Poetry. Here's an excerpt from the section on new works (which includes centos, erasure, "found" material, and more).
PRINCIPLE: Under fair use, a poet may make use of quotations from existing poetry, literary prose, and non-literary material, if these quotations are re-presented in poetic forms that add value through significant imaginative or intellectual transformation, whether direct or (as in the case of poetry-generating software) indirect.
I feel fairly confident that regardless of the source, if the poem is a transformation, it's okay under the law. In regards to my own work, I took Dewey's very convoluted treatment of ideas and turned it into a call to romance. That's a pretty big transformation in my eyes. And I don't think Jamie Oliver's recipe for monkfish was an exhortation for a roll in the hay ...

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends! 


  1. Interesting to see the connections. I never know how much is really mine when I do a found poem, so I rarely do them.

  2. Love the way you made this a story! "breath and steam" -- beautiful, Tricia!

  3. Now, a STORY might have worked better for me... or maybe not.
    I think my biggest issue with found poems is that they remind me so much of Mad Libs... they can feel either really disjointed, or suddenly snap into place. I don't think I ever got to the "snap," but -- it was a worthy form to pit ourselves against!

    1. Tanita, I've never written a found poem (though I have written a cento or two using book titles), and I'm not sure I'll do it again. I did enjoy the challenge. The source materials simply became a set of words I had to choose from. Once I told myself I had to keep them to the order they appeared in, "writing" a poem felt a lot like a puzzle.

      I do feel these are a bit "choppy," but I suppose that's the nature of this form. I am glad to have tried it.

  4. Haha! Monkish recipe becomes call to roll in the hay. (Pun intended?) Me thinks you could devise a cookbook of such recipes and make a killing....

    I just love how you've pulled out phrases that fit together so well, and yet also, bump into each other just enough to draw out new meanings. AND to make the three of them a story---you get the Salvage Sister crown this month, my dear!

    (Also, I agree about how writing these poems felt. Writing my erasure poem was a lot like a puzzle, and not just because I drew mine from an actual puzzle. It honestly felt undoable at one point, and then I pared down to the bare minimum and found my line through.)

  5. Wonderful!

  6. They do indeed work both separately, and as a whole story! Bravo!

  7. Interesting to see how the tone varies, with the change of the source. The first two are drift and dreamy - old worldly, the third more abrupt/colloquial. Good to see your play with found poetry - even if you're still undecided. :)